Can I get a hand raise from my fellow night owls?
I’ve long said that I’m a night person who has to operate in a morning person’s world. If it were up to me, nothing of any importance would happen before 9 a.m. My brain is just not naturally online before then.
But that’s not how the world of work operates. So we night owls adapt to be successful.
That’s why I found this article from FORTUNE so interesting: the idea that the shift to remote work has given night owls flexibility to operate in OUR prime energy periods, and without the judgment that comes from morning people (and yes, the judgment is real).
One of the many benefits of working independently is that I largely can set my own schedule. In general, I try not to schedule meetings before 9 a.m. Around 4 p.m. I break to nap, and then do the activities that morning people do in the morning (exercise, etc.). My most productive hours are from 8-10 p.m. when I sit on the couch and crank work out. Then I wind down, read a book, and rarely have the light off before 11 p.m.
I’m always happy to adjust when needed. When my client with a global presence needs an early call, I’m online before 7 a.m. I know it’s going to impact my energy for the rest of the day and plan accordingly.
When I had a corporate job, I got better over the years at managing my time to my natural circadian schedule. This was especially necessary given that I also had a commute to add time to my mornings. Colleagues knew I’d be in around 8:30, and preferred meetings after 9:00. They were used to me working in the evening and understood that a 9:00 p.m. email from me did not necessitate a response that night.
I love the idea that the shift to more remote work gives night owls the opportunity to flex and work in their natural rhythms. Again, the beauty is that this comes without the judgment of morning people because we aren’t “straggling in late.”
As a sleep expert, Barnes hates the “early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise” adage that he still sees shared frequently among LinkedIn influencers, CEOs, and startup executives who wax poetic about their elaborate “five to nine before their nine to five.” He says they’re playing into a false impression that early morning work is fundamentally better. He doesn’t buy it.
The idea that morning people are better / more productive / smarter / more creative / etc. etc. etc. is a completely false equivalency. If we can drop the moral superiority, that would be great.
Now, as more people return to the office, night owls will again need to work within a morning person’s world. My question is: with everything we’ve learned over the past few years regarding remote work, and with the risk of losing top talent still very real, is there space to be flexible with night owls, to let them work in our time of genius? If we can, what might the impact be?